Documentary, Student Victim Spur New York to Pass Cyber Bullying Law
The New York Senate and Assembly have passed legislation that would that require schools to
(1) establish protocols to respond to cyber-bullying, harassment, bullying and discrimination, including designating a school official to receive and investigate reports, prompt reporting; and investigation; (2) take actions to prevent recurrences; (3) coordinate with law enforcement when appropriate; (4) develop a bullying prevention strategy; and (5) provide notice to all school community members of the school’s policies. It would also set training requirements for current and new school employees.
The recent suicide death of New York native Tyler Clementi and conviction of his Rutgers roommate, the release of the documentary Bully and a relentless lobbying campaign by a Jamie Isaacs, a Long Island student who had been a victim of cyber bullying, all were cited as factors in pushing Albany to act. Governor Cuomo is expected to sign the bill.
The Missouri Supreme Court has struck down the state’s cyber harassment law passed in the wake of the suicide death of Missouri resident Meghan Meiers due to online harassment. The court was troubled that the law “criminalizes any person who knowingly communicates more than once with another individual who does not want to receive the communication” which would ensnare legitimate conduct.
Although the statute purports to criminalize “harassment,” subdivision (5), unlike the other subdivisions, does not require the conduct to actually harass in any sense of the word. Rather, it criminalizes a person who “knowingly makes repeated unwanted communication to another person.” A few examples illustrate the statute’s potential chilling effect upon political speech as well as everyday communications. For instance, individuals picketing a private or public entity would have to cease once they were informed their protestations were unwanted. A teacher would be unable to call a second time on a student once the pupil asked to be left alone. Salvation Army bell-ringers collecting money for charity could be prosecuted for harassment if they ask a passerby for a donation after being told, “I’ve already given; please don’t ask again.” An advertising campaign urging an elected official to change his or her position on a controversial issue would be criminalized.
Cal Appellate Court Upholds $820K Judgment Against Employer Who Failed to Act on Off-Duty Cyber Harassment of Employee b Co-Workers.
Once an employer is informed of the . . . harassment, the employer must take adequate remedial measures. The measures need to include immediate corrective action that is reasonably calculated to 1) end the current harassment and 2) to deter future harassment. [Citation.] The employer’s obligation to take prompt corrective action requires 1) that temporary steps be taken to deal with the situation while the employer determines whether the complaint is justified and 2) that permanent remedial steps be implemented by the employer to prevent future harassment once the investigation is completed. [Citation.] An employer has wide discretion in choosing how to minimize contact between the two employees, so long as it acts to stop the harassment. [Citation.] “[T]he reasonableness of an employer’s remedy will depend on its ability to stop harassment by the person who engaged in harassment.” [Citation.]“
Feminist Film Project on Kickstarter Triggers “Maelstrom of Hate”
When Anita Arkeesian, a “feminist pop culture critic” sought to raise $6,000 through Kickstarter to fund a project entitled “Tropes vs. Women” in video games to address misogyny and sexism in depiction of women in video games, she became the target of a harassment campaign that she describes as being
a torrent of misogyny and hate speech on my YouTube video, repeated vandalizing of the Wikipedia page about me, organized efforts to flag my YouTube videos as “terrorism”, as well as many threatening messages sent through Twitter, Facebook, Kickstarter, email and my own website. These messages and comments have included everything from the typical sandwich and kitchen “jokes” to threats of violence, death, sexual assault and rape. All that plus an organized attempt to report this project to Kickstarter and get it banned or defunded.
To her defense came the likes of Kickstarter Co-Founder Yancey Strickler and Roger Ebert who are among her over 6,000 backers that have helped her raise over $142,000. Helen Lewis of the New Statesman points out that this is not the first time this has happened in the game industry, as “Bioware’s Jennifer Hepler was similarly hounded out of town for expressing some fairly innocuous statements about videogames.”
More Info.: NEW YORK STATE PASSES BILL TO PREVENT CYBER-BULLYING, LI Politics; Long Island Teen’s Dogged Determination Leads To Nation’s First Anti-Cyber Bullying Law, CBS; Dear The Internet, This Is Why You Can’t Have Anything Nice, New Statesman; Kickstarter campaign leads to cyber-bullying, Digital Trends.